So with the refit and relaunch back in July I was optimistic that the result could only be an improvement - it was just a question of whether it would be sufficiently improved to tempt me to go that little bit further for a drink.
Initially I was disappointed that the refit did not include the introduction of any real ale - keg beer was on offer but it was either chilled and tasteless Meantime fizz or headache-inducingly-pricey 'craft' beers from south London. Some of their craft beers were so expensive I momentarily considered going teetotal.
Hence I let out a great cheer when I heard that they subsequently installed a hand-pump and were serving Sambrooks Wandle ale for just £3 a pint!
Even on my previous visits, while the beer range was disappointing, the food was good and the prices keen.
The menu is generally standard pub dishes - bangers and mash, burgers, fish & chips and so on - but done well and reasonably priced. Specials are often available and these are advertised on Twitter or Facebook.
On my first visit, chicken livers on sourdough were pretty tasty and the mains (a veggie burger which no longer seems to be on the menu, being replaced by the mushroom/halloumi stack, and toulouse sausage & mash) were filling and hot. I wasn't too keen on the slate/mini fryer basket presentation of the burger but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the grub.
On my most recent visit (apologies no photos this time), the food was again delivered to a high standard. The calamari was as far as it could be from the regular tasteless rings - chunks of squid in crunchy batter which was properly seasoned and incredibly moreish - really wished we'd ordered a portion each. The only reason we did not fight over the last piece was that my companion is more gracious than me.
Fish and chips was plentiful and fresh - great value at just over a tenner even if the 'mushy peas' were of the crushed variety, rather than being proper northern. Always something of a disappointment for me but all too common in this unenlightened city...
I was also heartened to see they are still offering cask ale at £3 a pint, which in itself is a good reason to drop by and check the place out.
One thing I have a major beef with in the Royal Standard is the enormous screen that dominates the far end of the room and leers down over the vast majority of the dining tables. I had initially assumed that the screen was installed so that they could show sports, but it's been on every time I've visited and I find it very off-putting.
Last time I dropped in the screen was showing 80s pop videos with the sound turned down and the radio playing instead, making it almost impossible to dine in comfort. People dining alone might like the screen it as a distraction, and no doubt it will earn its keep when there's sport to watch, but at any other time it's surely going to put off anyone who wants to eat in company?
Only a handful of customers were in the bar at the time and this mish-mash of entertainment seemed to emphasise the emptiness of the place. If the food and drink are going to get the attention they deserve, I think this aspect really needs addressing.